Paddling a Canadian canoe on Coniston Water copyright Dave Willis

Water and boating in the Lake District

The Lake District has more than sixteen lakes and numerous tarns plus a stretch of coastline. So there's plenty of opportunity to go rowing, sailing, windsurfing, kayaking, paddle boarding, fishing or simply splash about on the shore.

Boat hire

The following four lakes all have watersport centres, and places where you can hire boats, including rowing boats and electric boats:

Coniston Boating Centre

Have a great family day out on Coniston Water. Book motor boats, canoes, kayaks and paddleboards at Coniston online.

Steamers and boat cruises

Taking a cruise is a great way to experience the beautiful Lake District views. Combining a one-way cruise with a bus, walk or cycle can be a great way to travel around a lake in a day.

These lakes have passenger boats with multiple stops:


Windermere Lake Cruises - stops at Lakeside, Ferry House, Bowness-on-Windermere, Windermere Jetty, Bark Barn Pier, Wray Castle, Brockhole on Windermere and Ambleside.

Windermere lake guide shows piers, jetties and towns around the lake


Ullswater Steamers - stops at Glenridding, Aira Force, Howtown and Pooley Bridge.

Ullswater lake guide shows all piers, jetties and boat routes


National Trust Gondoloa - stops at Coniston Boating Centre, Brantwood and Lake Bank Jetty.

Coniston Launch - stops at Coniston Boating Centre, Waterhead, Brantwood, Sunny Bank, Lake Bank Jetty.

Coniston Water lake guide shows all piers, jetties and boat routes


Keswick Launch - stops at Keswick, Ashness Gate, Lodore, High Brandelhow, Low Brandelhow, Hawes End, Lingholm and Nichol End.

Park and Sail - park at Keswick Rugby Club for just £4 a day and get 15% off Keswick Launch tickets. The best way to reach the West side of the lake and Cat Bells, where there is very limited parking.

Derwentwater lake guide shows all piers and jetties

Swimming and staying safe on the water

  • Splashing about in the lakes and tarns is a lovely way to cool off on a warm day. Take a look at our guide to where to swim and how to stay safe while enjoying the water.
  • During the warmer weather, blue green algae may occur on some waters. While this occurs naturally, it can be toxic and lethal to animals. Our guide to blue green algae explains what to look out for and how to report a sighting.
  • Heading out on a boat is the perfect way to explore the larger lakes, but before heading out, make sure you know the basics in water safety. Our lake rangers share their top tips in these short water safety videos.

Maps of Lakes for water users:

The coast

The National Park includes 26 miles of coastline and estuaries. The coast, from Seascale to Millom, is quite different to the rest of the National Park.

Here you can enjoy dramatic views across open sea and into the high fells. Where the rivers of the western Lake District meet the sea there are dunes and estuaries rich with sea life and the birds which feed on it. There are lots of places where you can launch anything from a windsurfer to a small boat.

Find out more in our The Coast of the Lake District National Park leaflet (PDF)

Help native wildlife

Invasive non-native species of wildlife can hitchhike on equipment, footwear, clothing and boats. You may inadvertently spread the aliens even if you just go for a paddle! Every time you leave any water such as a river, tarn or lake:

Check - Clean - Dry

Stop the spread of invasive aquatic species logo

  • Check your equipment and clothing for living organisms. Pay particular attention to damp or hard to inspect areas.
  • Clean and wash all equipment, footwear and clothes thoroughly. If you do come across any organisms, leave them at the water body where you found them or on a hard surface to die out.
  • Dry all equipment and clothing. Some species can live for many days in damp conditions.

Check, Clean and Dry guides for different water users